GIS Tools Offer Critical Defense and Intelligence Capabilities to U.S. Military for National Security

GIS Jobs are Widely Available in All Industries, but the U.S. Military Relies on Geospatial Information and Professionals with GIS Degrees

Aurora, Colo. – May 14, 2012 – More than ever before, the U.S. military depends on geographic information systems (GIS) technology for our nation’s defense and our armed forced are always looking for a few good men and women with GIS degrees to handle these important roles.

GIS is a technical skill that applies to several rapidly growing fields with many implications for military personnel and planners. It’s a system that captures, manages, stores, analyzes and displays geographically referenced information that allows users to interpret and visualize spatial data to uncover patterns, trends and relationships.

As modern warfare becomes more and more of a conflict of information, military forces around the world employ scholars in this field to help make quick decisions about operations order, placement of installations and the gathering of intelligence.

Whether assessing potential terrorist targets, planning where to strike on the battlefield or deciding where to locate a new building with minimal environmental impact, geography always comes into the equation and GIS technology plays an increasingly important role in making these critical decisions.

All GIS positions require basic solider training and several weeks of technology training, but earning a bachelor’s degree online in GIS will prepare soldiers to enter or move up in this rapidly growing field.

“Whether you listen to today’s political news, financial news or military veteran transition stories, one topic is continually on the forefront: jobs, jobs and jobs,” says retired Air Force Lieutenant Colonel Paul Capicik, vice president, military programs at American Sentinel University and a 26-year veteran of the U.S. Air Force and former corporate CIO.

GIS jobs are widely available in all industries, but they are especially prevalent in the U.S. Military where they play a critical role in our nation’s security and defense. In fact, the use of GIS technology by the armed services goes back even further than most think.

During the Cold War, the military planned to use GIS in the rail-based MX missiles, but the system was not built after the Soviet Union collapse.

In the early 1990s, GIS technology created the first global database at 1:1 meter scale with the Defense Mapping Agency creating a 1.7-gigabyte database using a new data structure, Vector Product Format.

Current day GPS devices, drones and other military intelligence tools all relied on GIS technology during the most-recent wars, opening the job sector for military personnel and civilian defense contractors.

Lieutenant Colonel Capicik points out that getting a job is extremely competitive and job stability is always on everyone’s mind.

“Those in the military that have experience using geospatial technology in battlefield management often find that they have a significant advantage over others just coming out of school with no hands-on experience,” he adds.

Here’s a look at a few military GIS jobs as well as civilian contractor positions needed in this rapidly growing field.

• Imagery Analyst
According to the U.S. Army, a soldier with the military occupation of imagery analyst, an MOS of 35G, uses principles and techniques of photo-grametry and employs electronic, mechanical, and optical devices to obtain information from imagery. As an enlisted soldier, one will analyze imagery products and determine target coordinates. The job requires a top secret clearance.

• Geospatial Engineer
Known as 12 Yankee, an Army geospatial engineer is the equivalent to a civilian cartographer, information systems manager, GIS technician and geospatial scientist. They use GIS data to help commanders make better mission-centric decisions, such as supply routes and troop movements. Geospatial engineers track trucks, cargoes and can estimate convoy security needs by analyzing GIS data.

• Air Force Engineer
As a part of their overall duties, airmen with the MOS of 3E5X1 produce installation maps using a GIS interface. They also create and maintain spatial, tabular and metadata to national standards and combine disparate datasets from various organizations, with various projections and precisions, according to the Air Force, while developing query routines for end-user applications. They perform survey, reconnaissance, site location, construction and management duties.

• Officer Duties
Although there is no official officer class for GIS in the military, there is a GIS designation for warrant officers. According to the U.S. Army Warrant Recruiter Command, the Geospatial Engineer Technician is a warrant officer position that provides terrain analysis and geospatial information and services (GI&S). The Army says these warrant officers assimilate, integrate and manage geospatial-intelligence (GEOINT) data, while providing analysis that aids the commander and staff in visualizing the terrain and understanding its impact upon friendly and enemy operations. Warrant Officers also require a degree and make considerably more money than enlisted soldiers. See a current Warrant Officer pay chart at

• Civilian GIS Defense Contractors
The federal government spends billions every year on civilian contractors specializing in GIS. Much of this is spent on civilian contractors specializing in defense. In 2009, Northrop Grumman Corp. received a $15-million contract from the U.S. Department of the Navy, Naval Facilities Engineering Command (NAVFAC), Atlantic to provide geospatial services and products enhancing the service’s capabilities for planning, asset management, training, infrastructure, and homeland defense both at home and abroad. Last year, Global Integrated Security (USA), Inc. received a $480-million U.S. Army Corps of Engineers GIS contract for Reconstruction Security Support Services throughout Afghanistan.

“All of this GIS defense spending shows just how bright the future is for GIS professionals whether they’re on the defense or civilian side,” adds Lieutenant Colonel Capicik.

American Sentinel University’s GIS program teaches fundamental business and information technology skills and the specifics of geographic information systems. The program prepares students for entry into the GIS field and also provides training in information systems that benefit other business areas as well. Learn more about American Sentinel University’s GIS degrees at

American Sentinel is a military-friendly university, offering military education benefits to active-duty and non-active-duty service members, veterans, reservists, auxiliary and their spouses. For more information on American Sentinel’s distance learning degrees and certification programs relevant to students’ military and post-military careers, visit

About American Sentinel University
American Sentinel University delivers the competitive advantages of accredited associate, bachelor’s and master’s online degree programs focused on the needs of high-growth sectors, including information technology, computer science, GIS, health care, business administration, and business intelligence degrees. The university is accredited by the Distance Education and Training Council (DETC), which is listed by the U.S. Department of Education as a nationally recognized accrediting agency and is a recognized member of the Council for Higher Education Accreditation.